The Robots Knocking on Your Front DoorStart
Robots, once the stuff of science fiction, are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives. Some, like Siri and Roomba, have fully integrated while others like autonomous cars still face roadblocks. Here are some of the robots that you might see in and around your home in the coming years. Are you ready to welcome them?
The Mobile Home Assistant Robot
For some technology users, Amazon's Alexa home assistant have become an integral part of their lives. Alexa can do a lot with just her voice, from managing your schedule to helping you cook. But imagine what she could accomplish with legs.
Ubtech's Lynx robot, officially introduced at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, is fully integrated with Amazon's Alexa software and can take all the same commands as an Amazon Echo. With its added mobility, however, the Lynx can recognize your face and adjust its response accordingly, like giving you a hug if you're a member of the family. It can demonstrate yoga poses and dance routines. The Lynx will be available for purchase later this year and will cost nearly $1,000.
The Stationary Home Assistant Robot
The LG Hub robot is another contender for smart home assistant bot. Like the Lynx, this bot also partially relies on Amazon's Alexa software to perform a few helpful tasks, like playing music and updating you on the weather forecast. But this bot can also connect to and control other smart LG appliances around the home.
Introduced at the 2017 CES, the Hub is not likely to be on store shelves anytime soon. However, personal assistant robots like these could likely become mainstays in homes of the near future.
The East-Coast Delivery Robot
While some robots are still a few years away, delivery robots are being put into action in cities around the country.
Starship Technologies' robot comes to knee height, has six wheels, and its mission is to bring food to hungry customers. Starship joined up with delivery service Postmates to test the robot in Washington, DC.
The robot cruises along at four miles per hour and navigates by itself using cameras, GPS and sensors to avoid dangers like curbs and pedestrians. The bot also can recognize traffic signals like walk signs, so it knows when to safely cross the street. But if it truly gets lost or stuck, it can contact a human operator to help it out.
When the robot arrives at customers' doors, they use an app to unlock it to retrieve the meal inside. This is one of several anti-theft measures to ensure that no one else runs off with your foot long Italian sub and mozzarella sticks.
The West-Coast Delivery Robot
A different delivery bot has hit the streets of San Francisco. The robot was developed by startup Marble, which partnered specifically with Yelp Eat 24 to deliver food. It looks a little bit like an appliance you'd install in your kitchen to make food, but it brings you delivery instead. The Marble robot navigates similarly to the Starship robot but also uses lidar—a surveying system that uses light to measure ranges—and high-resolution 3-D maps of its assigned San Francisco neighborhoods.
When it comes to delivery robots, some experts predict that food is just the beginning. Tech companies could utilize delivery bots for many other goods besides pizza.
The Lawnmower Robot
You likely know somebody who relies on a Roomba or iRobot vacuum cleaner to keep their carpets free of pet fur. Robotic maids are a common dream of anyone dreading having to do the dishes and fold the laundry.
While one robot won't be able to do every task, like Rosie from "The Jetsons," there are a few robots that have been designed for specific chores that a lot of us would be happy to have taken off our to-do list.
A company named Robomow has been around since the early 2000s, developing robotic lawnmowers. The current iteration works very similarly to robotic vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, but it does require legwork. Users must install a perimeter wire around the lawn to stop the mowing bot from ruining flower beds. Users also have to determine the settings in the Robomow's Bluetooth connected app. It's a pricey piece of technology, though, and will cost users around $1,600. That might be a small price for the person who hates mowing the lawn.
The Cooking Robot
Perhaps your dreaded chore is cooking. Slicing, dicing, boiling and broiling can be daunting to some at the end of a long day. Moley Robotics is currently developing a robotic chef. This nimble pair of arms is outfitted with 129 sensors, 20 motors, thousands of recipes and the ability to clean up after itself (which many humans lack).
Moley is planning to launch this robotic system to consumers in 2018. But this definitely won't be something you pick up at Best Buy or order from Amazon. Instead, your entire kitchen will need to be overhauled to install it.
The Code-Teaching Robot
Anki's Cosmo Robot looks a bit like Wall-E, but instead of compacting trash, he's here to teach you how to code.
Armed with a Code Lab app, Cosmo lets children 7 years and older learn and experiment with programming. Cosmo's camera can recognize faces, count items, see color and map pathways.
While adults who know the programming language Python can also play with Cosmo, younger users or those who are just learning to code will use Scratch Blocks, a visual coding language developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cosmo's app guides users and they can level up with programming puzzle games.
If your kid masters that quickly, don't worry. Anki will soon release a more complicated version of the coding language that will allow Cosmo to do even more.
The Code-Teaching Robot For Lego Lovers
Lego Boost's components are likely very familiar. Yes, there are special parts for sensing motion and color, but this bot is made of everyone's favorite interlocking bricks and can be supplemented with pieces from other Lego sets.
The Companion Robot For All Ages
Some robots serve utilitarian functions, but some researchers are developing robots that fill emotional roles.
The Zora social robot has seen success with students in classrooms and senior citizens in assisted living facilities. Zora is a collaboration between the software of Zorabots and the hardware of Softbank. The result is a small humanoid robot that can lead physical therapy and exercise classes, and provide an outlet for socialization.
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The Companion Robot For Kids
Other developers are designing robots that fill very specific social functions. Robot Kaspar (which stands for Kinesics and Synchronization in Personal Assistant Robots) might look a little unusual, but he was developed by University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. to help children on the autism spectrum to practice their social skills. Kaspar has limited movements and facial expressions, which acts as a starting point for reading social cues. Kaspar can repeat his actions when he hears encouragement, for example, will keep playing peek-a-boo as long as he hears the word "peek-a-boo"
Another robot Leka is also designed to provide socialization for small children with special needs, but also helps with motor skills and visual cues. Introduced at CES in 2017, Leka is essentially a round ball with a face, but it can do a lot.
Leka has built-in sensors to detect a child's interaction with it and has colorful lights intended to soothe. The app also features games that can involve other members of the family.